Metro Atlanta health systems release joint statement as demand for COVID-19 testing, treatment increases

Six metro-Atlanta health systems have issued a unified statement to address the public on the latest COVID-19 impacts as the Delta and Omicron variants continue to spread.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory Healthcare, both based in DeKalb County, sent the joint statement along with Grady Health System, Northeast Georgia Health System, Piedmont Healthcare and Wellstar Health System as the hospitals “are once again experiencing a staggering surge in adults and children with COVID-19 symptoms and diagnoses,” according to a press release.

Officials said that collectively, these health care systems have experienced 100 to 200 percent increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the span of eight days and the majority of inpatients are unvaccinated.

The healthcare systems are asking the public to avoid going to an emergency room or hospital to get tested for COVID-19 as at-home tests remain scarce and long lines for drive-thru testing continues.

“Emergency room activity has increased significantly for both emergent and non-emergent situations, including those seeking COVID-19 testing without the need for further care or treatment,” the statement reads. “To keep emergency rooms available to individuals who have the most critical health needs, individuals should obtain care at the most appropriate medical facility for their condition and seek COVID-19 testing at primary care locations, public health and mass testing sites or use at-home testing kits.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those who are sick and do not have access to testing for COVID-19 should stay home and isolate themselves from others if possible. A mask should be worn around the nose and face area if going out in public, states the CDC.

During this new wave of positive COVID-19 cases, officials with these health care systems said they need the public’s help to better manage emergency room diversions and minimize serious illness and hospitalizations. They are collectively asking the public to do the following:

  • Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19, obtain the COVID-19 booster when eligible and get the seasonal flu vaccine.
  • Go to the most appropriate medical facility for your condition when you require care – and do not delay care if you are in need of immediate medical attention.
  • Remember that emergency rooms are for those seeking examination and treatment for medical emergencies, not for routine COVID-19 testing or mild symptoms.
  • Only call 911 with a true emergency. Local 911 operators and EMTs are overwhelmed with calls, so if there is not a real emergency, please call your medical provider for guidance.
  • Use at-home testing kits, public health testing locations or independent testing facilities if you need to be tested for COVID-19 unless you are ill and need medical care.
  • For routine COVID-19 tests, find a location near you on the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) website at dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting.
  • Consult your provider for appropriate treatment options if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Continue to actively follow CDC and DPH guidelines and practice the “3 Ws” safety measures—wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.
  • Anticipate increased wait times for medical services.

“Due to the influx of patients and increased demands placed on our health care workforce, we ask everyone who enters our facilities to practice patience and kindness with each other and with our care team members who are providing expert, compassionate care,” stated officials. “The health and safety of our patients and communities remains our top priority. The six metro Atlanta health care systems will continue to work together to educate and inform the public regarding COVID-19 and address the most critical health needs impacting our area. We also would like to express our appreciation to the Governor for his support of our workforce and the newly announced funding to address staffing shortages at hospitals across the state due to COVID-19, and to the Georgia Department of Public Health for continued outreach to the public regarding issues affecting our patients, care team members and community.”

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